FINDING THE RIGHT PRESCHOOL
After a long summer, your family is heading back into the school schedule. For many families, that means preparing to send younger kids off to school for the first time, which can be cause for some anxiety for parents and child. From deciding whether a half or full day program is best to what kind of curriculum you want your child engaging in, there are many options to consider when finding the best preschool.
Deciding What Schools
There are a number of factors you’All want to consider when starting your preschool search. Location is usually a big deciding factor, especially for parents that work. You’All want to make sure that if your child is sick, picking them up from school is convenient for at least one parent or caregiver.
Accreditation shows that a particular school has met specific guidelines established by nationally recognized organizations like the Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment and National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs. In 1996, the Florida Legislature created the Gold Seal Quality Care program that acknowledges childcare facilities that are accredited to standards that reflect a quality level of care and supervision for children attending the program.
Curriculum is pivotal when it comes to choosing the right school for your preschooler. Whether you’re interested in a Montessori, Reggio Emilia or High Scope program it’s important that your child be interacted with in a way that is appropriate for them. Make sure to discuss with each center director the type of curriculum that is used and why they feel it’s the best approach for your child.
Local Resources are a great way to get different perspectives on early childhood learning programs. Tampa Bay Parenting and the Early Learning Coalition offer print and online tools to help you find the best providers of early education in your neighborhood.
Meet the Teachers
One of the most significant elements of early childhood learning is the teachers. This is because learning occurs through human interactions. The best early childhood teachers are those who know how to play and find joy in the process. You’All often find these teachers sitting on the floor with the children, interacting with them in their creative play. These teachers understand how to communicate, listen for understanding, challenge students, provide feedback, observe important developmental milestones and report to parents. The best teachers are those who are genuinely interested in their students. They are the ones who are best equipped to provide the necessary instructional and emotional support that create excellence.
Do Your Research
Once you’ave honed in on your chosen school, visit the Florida Department of Children & Families’ website where you can search education providers by county and review reports on the schools site visits, accreditations, complaints and annual county renewals. If something in a report doesn’t’t seem right, don’t be afraid to bring it to the attention of the school director. Ask how the problem has been rectified and confirm that policies have been put in place to avoid repeat mistakes.
Finding the perfect preschool for your child won’t be the easiest process but remember that choosing a great preschool will do much to put your child on a path for long-term school and life success.